NASW continues to work in coalition to promote student loan debt relief for social workers. There have been several developments over the past couple of weeks that we want to highlight.
New Law on PSLF
On September 21, 2022, the House passed the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act (S. 1098), which passed in the Senate on June 15, 2022. The law allows jointly consolidated loans to be separated into two distinct direct loans, thereby making these loans eligible for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. Now, some spouses who had jointly consolidated loans will be able to take advantage of the PSLF waiver.
Updates from the Department of Education (ED) on the PSLF Limited Waiver
On September 14, 2022, Federal Student Aid (FSA) posted updates to the limited PSLF waiver page on StudentAid.gov/pslfwaiver. ED has indicated that individuals who start the process of applying for PSLF before the October 31, 2022, deadline will be considered for forgiveness under the limited PSLF waiver.
On. Oct. 31, 2022, the limited PSLF waiver ends and beginning, Nov. 1, 2022, ED is going back to the normal program requirements for both PSLF and the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) programs.
Request Refunds of Payments During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
During the student loan debt payment pause, which began on March 13, 2020, and ends on December 31, 2022, student loan borrowers with Direct Federal Student Loans do not have to pay their student loan debt and will not accrue interest during that time.
If you have made payments on your Direct Federal Student Loans you can request a refund for those payments.
All you need to do is call the lender servicing your student loan with this information:
- The dates you made payments
- The amount of each payment
- How many of the payments you want refunded
If you happen to be part of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, you can ask for a refund and not hurt your status. Even though you asked for the money back, as long as all other requirements were met, the payments you made still count toward the 120 payments needed to receive forgiveness.
Student Loan Debt Cancellation by Executive Action
On August 24, 2022, President Biden announced that the federal government would cancel $10,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers with individual incomes less than $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples or heads of household), with an additional $10,000 ($20,000 total) in cancellation if those borrowers received a Pell Grant at any time to help fund their education.
Nearly 8 million borrowers may be eligible to receive relief automatically because relevant income data is already available to ED. If ED does not have your income data, the Administration will launch a simple application which will be available by early October. If you would like to be notified when the application is open, please sign up at the Department of Education subscription page.
President Biden also announced that an incoming new Income-Driven Repayment plan which will lower payments for undergraduate loans, setting payments at 5% of discretionary income, and redefining discretionary income to mean any income above 225% of the federal poverty level. This plan is not currently available, and the Department of Education has not released more information.
New Resource on Student Loan Debt Relief
NASW is partnering with the Student Borrower Protection Center and other organizations on the Forgive My Student Debt web page. This webpage will be updated frequently and include information on cancellation, PSLF, and other developments.
PSLF Days of Action
On September 7, 2022, and September 14, 2022, NASW participated in the White House PSLF Days of Action focusing on health care providers and non-profit professionals. NASW shared information about accessing the PSLF temporary waiver through social media channels. This activity was an effort to ensure that all social workers are aware of the PSLF Program temporary waiver, which is effective through October 31, 2022.